As Google tweaks its algorithms and more and more people are using mobile devices to access the web, the online landscape is evolving once again. To make sure you remain visible to your customers, here are our ten website must-dos for 2014.
1. Have a responsive website or mobile version
Recent stats suggest that 28% of the world’s website traffic came from mobile devices in 2013. This figure is only set to grow as more of us turn to our smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, and make our decisions about the services and products we want.
A growing number of companies are thinking about the omni-channel customer, someone who uses multiple devices, sometimes simultaneously, to access a brand.
It is essential that your website provides a good experience for mobile users, so that there is the same degree of ease and accessibility however your site is viewed.
A responsive website is one that detects the device (mobile, tablet or desktop computer) that you’re using. It changes and reconfigures how your site looks so it is optimised for the relevant device. By opting for a responsive design, you can maximise the number of new enquiries.
If you can’t quite afford a new site just yet, then a smaller mobile version is a ‘must have’ to create a good mobile experience.
2. Collect visitor data from your website
Although your website may get 500 to 1,000 hits a month, only a small percentage of these hits convert to enquiries. This is because it can take anywhere between 7 to 27 touches with your brand before a potential customer is ready to buy.
It’s a smart business move to have a mechanism for capturing some basic contact information for visitors to your website. Offering a free ebook, hint sheet or white paper for download is a great way of legitimately securing email addresses. Make it clear that as well as downloading your ebook, the potential customer will also be sent your free weekly/monthly ezine and suddenly you have a reason to regularly get in contact.
Offering an ‘irresistible freebie’ helps your potential customers make unbiased decision about registering with or buying from you. It’s also an excellent tool for starting to build recognised brand values that you can then market to these people and follow up from their visit.
3. Add new content
Google is constantly refining the algorithms that determine where your web pages appear in search engine listings. You’ve heard the saying ‘Content is King!’ and these days it really is. By making sure that your website is up-to-date, adding fresh content and regularly posting high quality, informative articles that resonate with your client group, you can send clear signals to Google that yours is a website to trust and rank highly. A blog is one of the most popular mechanisms for regularly adding fresh content.
4. Allowing new clients to contact you in a way that suits them
We all lead busier lives than ever, so it’s important to offer your new and existing clients a way to contact you that suits them. Options such as a call back, online enquiry form, or easy way to ask a question can all help. You might also want to include a FAQs page to answer the most common questions (this is great for SEO purposes too because Google is now looking for semantic/natural language searches, instead of just keywords).
Is it clear at a glance where your potential customers need to go in order to make contact with you? Some people prefer email; others will want to pick up the phone. Whatever option someone favours, make it easy for them. This way you can ensure that you’re not ruling out a proportion of new clients.
5. Offers / promotions
BMW Selfridges, Harrods and John Lewis do it – so can you!
If promotions are something you struggle with, think about how you can add value to your existing prices rather than offering a discount. We all want value, whether it’s the lowest price, something for free or just peace or mind – this doesn’t change according to the person’s bank account.
We always recommend having an offer that will become a source of enquiries and enable you to boost your marketing and awareness. Keep your time restricted to create a sense of urgency as no-one wants to think they’re going to miss out.
6. A process of monitoring
Someone in your team, if not you, needs to have clear objectives when it comes to understanding what you want your website to achieve. Are you aiming for more enquiries? More sign ups to your mailing list? Are you running a specific promotion via a few different avenues? Monitoring the number of visitors, number of enquiries, number of calls and so on will help you to make informed decisions about future developments, enabling your website to grow with your business.
7. Tracking number
I hear lots of clients ask new customers where they heard about them. Realistically, how many people are going to say they saw your Google business listing or a specific PPC campaign or an ad on Facebook? They will normally say something vague, like ‘a local ad or Google’. You can’t interrogate them in too much detail, asking them to pinpoint exactly where on Google. While that might matter to you, it certainly won’t matter to your customer.
Without a mechanism for tracking enquiry sources, you can’t really get the stats you want, especially if you have several different Google activities that you are balancing and trying.
A tracking number is an affordable no brainer. From a couple of hundred pounds a year, you can present a local tracking number which tells you exactly how many calls you’ve had a year. Some services are better than others, so it’s worth looking around.
By using a tracking number on one form of marketing, this allows you to know exactly how many people have seen and responded to it. You can even listen into calls if you need to, see how many were on hold or who didn’t want to hold, which will help you improve your reception or front of house procedures, if necessary.
8. Google reviews
Most customers are looking for reviews but won’t necessarily find them on Google. In fact, a Google review is more likely to be seen and read and will become an increasingly important trust marker for SEO purposes. Google reviews arguably carry more kudos as they are perceived as genuine social proof. If you have more reviews than a competitor, there is more kudos with you.
9. Facebook Business page
Social media isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but no one disputes the size and popularity of it. Having a Facebook business page, Twitter profile or Google+ account enables you to generate greater brand awareness and more high quality links to your website, which drives more traffic and improves your rankings.
10. YouTube Videos
Video on your website helps people find out about what you do in seconds instead of minutes. It enables you to create your pitch and tone more effectively than just words and images. As YouTube is owned by Google, having a video on your sight can also positively impact where you appear in search engine results.